Friday, May 6, 2022

The Story Behind The Sweet Life


Suzanne Woods Fisher

A reader sent me an email after reading the first chapter of The Sweet Life. “I can’t imagine any mother,” she wrote, “having surgery for breast cancer without telling her daughter.”

Uh, well, that would be me.

After a routine mammogram discovered breast cancer, I made a decision to not tell my family until after the surgery. Hold your judgment! I had good reasons.

First of all, I found out I had cancer on Christmas Eve (such a bummer!), my mother-in-law had just passed away, my youngest son was bringing his sweetheart home for Christmas, and it was clear an engagement was pending, my youngest daughter’s mother-in-law was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Too much! It was all too much.

So, I chose to keep my news to myself. I did leave a “just in case something goes wrong” note for my four adult children. About a week after the surgery, I told them. Yes, they were mad at me. More mad than worried.

But that was okay. I hadn’t wanted anyone to worry about me. After all, I had a book to write! And thank God I did, because “The Sweet Life” became a wonderful escape during six long weeks of radiation. Cathartic, too. I wove the whole experience into Marnie Dixon’s story—though breast cancer wasn’t a major plot line. Still, what you’ll read came from firsthand experience. It’s a very personal story for me.

The Sweet Life is a novel about Marnie and her daughter, Dawn, both in need of a fresh start. Dawn’s fiancĂ©, Kevin, has just called off the wedding. And Marnie…well, you already know about her back story. The two women end up on Cape Cod and Marnie, being a smidge impulsive, makes a low ball offer on a rundown ice cream shop. To her surprise, and Dawn’s horror, the offer was accepted. Suddenly, they’re in the ice cream business. And Marnie has never made ice cream before. Not once.

To circle back to my story…I’m doing great! That’s the thing about cancer, especially the all-too-common diagnosis of breast cancer—catch it early! It’s so curable. A note to all women who might be reading this post: please schedule your annual mammogram. Keep that appointment. And if, like me, you do end up with a diagnosis you hadn’t expected, please feel free to email me for encouragement.

Suzanne Woods Fisher, with over 1.5 million copies sold, is a bestselling author of over 39 books, ranging from novels to children’s books to non-fiction. She is a Christy Award finalist, a winner of Carol and Selah awards, and a two-time finalist for ECPA Book of the Year. She writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading them. Suzanne lives with her very big family in northern California.


  1. Suzanne, I fully understand your decision. I found a lump in January of this year. My mammogram was scheduled, so I didn't alert anyone. I went to the appointment and told the technician what I'd found She took the photos and I went home, expecting a phone call for further examination. It came. By this time, I had one friend in another state praying for me. At the second appointment, it was determined it was a calcified fibroid cyst, praise God. I will be watched for 2 years at 6-month intervals. The thing is, I may cry out loud on Facebook about the flu or a broken toe. But with this, I clammed up. It was between me and God. So yeah, I get it. Praise God, you're doing well.

  2. This goes to show you we should never judge what someone else does. We don't know the full story. Blessings to you!

  3. l! I support you, praying things will stay gooD

  4. I completely understand your decision and motivation. In 2009, I was a deployed civilian worker in Iraq. Due to some mystery symptoms, I was airlifted to Baghdad. The docs there found a "mass" in my brain and flew me to Ramstein, Germany. The process took about a week. I told my best friend and asked her to pray for me. And to make sure that my daughter (8 months pregnant and my only living immediate family) didn't find out about it. My friend also volunteered to be the one to tell my daughter if something awful happened. The docs in Ramstein thought it was not a dangerous mass, but felt I should return to the states to have the mass dealt with. Yes, my daughter was upset with me for not telling her. The time it took for me to get home was almost two weeks. I knew it would take a long time and I knew my daughter tended to worry overmuch. What could she do for me? Much later she began to understand my reasoning and all is good now. It was hard going it by myself. However, I still stand by that decision and agree with your decision. And I got to meet Sarah Palin at Ramstein!

  5. I am so glad you are ok. I think I understand, sometimes it's easier to share after. Our kids are all so busy.

  6. I'll never forget when my mother told me she had breast cancer. I worried, prayed and thought about her all the time. Everyone has to make their own decisions and no one has the right to judge. Bless you.